TRENTON - New Jersey’s lawmakers are having a hard time agreeing on the issue of “tax fairness” in the state.
Much of the issue stems from proposals by Republicans and Democrats to replenish New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money soon.
New Jersey’s Democratic leaders have proposed raising the state’s gas tax as a way to replenish the fund. However, Gov. Chris Christie says that if the gas tax is raised, then the state should repeal the inheritance tax to even things out.
Officials opposed to that plan say cutting the inheritance tax would only benefit the wealthy.
New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhower says that his union members would not benefit from the tax cut.
“My members, they don’t have multimillion-dollar homes,” he says. “They don’t need to do estate planning, because they won’t have that much to leave.”
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto says that the inheritance tax generates a lot of revenue for the state and that New Jersey stands to lose $450 million in revenue if the inheritance tax is fully phased out.
Prieto says he is open to considering raising the threshold for when the tax kicks in.
Currently, New Jersey has the lowest level in the country, at $675,000. Under the state Senate bill, the tax would be phased out over five years.
The NJ Business and Industry Association says that they support cutting the inheritance tax. Their analysts say high taxes are one of the main reasons cited by wealthier New Jerseyans when they move out of the state.
Gov. Christie pushed to repeal the tax in his budget address earlier this year. Some lawmakers do agree with the compromise to repeal the inheritance tax and raise the gas tax as a way to replenish the transportation fund.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.